ROCHESTER, Minn. – If there was ever a great way to end 2019, the Rochester Grizzlies did it. In front of a big home crowd at the Rochester Recreation Center, the Grizzlies dominated from start to finish and defeated the Wausau RiverWolves 10-0. The win extends the winning streak to six games for Rochester.
Tuesday evening’s game marked the fifth out of eight times the two teams would meet this season. Rochester has won the previous four games, including Sunday in Wausau.
Noel Parker opened the scoring for Rochester at 5:26 of the first period. Parker was given a pass from Zak Justice and he proceeded to slap the puck past RiverWolves goalie Joseph La Forge for his fifth of the season. Less than a minute later, Michael Heitkamp doubled the lead with his 10th goal of the year. Hunter Wilmes provided the lone assist. Ethan Noonan made it 3-0 at 7:05 of the first as he was able to creep down from the point and fired home a Peyton Hart pass. Heitkamp provided the secondary assist. Noonan’s goal was the third goal for Rochester in less than two minutes. The Grizzlies would keep pouring it on in the first as Wilmes scored his fifth of the season at 14:36 of the first. Lucas Newman then added his third goal in two games at 17:57, giving Rochester a 5-0 lead.
It would be more offense in the second period for the Grizzlies. Cody Reagle got his second goal of the season after redirecting a Noonan point shot at 6:01 of the second. Not two minutes later, Nic Leisen scored his sixth of the season to extend the lead. Leisen’s shot hit the back post of the net and bounced out just as quick as it went in. Wilmes and Justice teamed up for a shorthanded goal at 11:03 of the second. Justice was able to kick the puck over to Wilmes who had Wausau goalie Tyler Klatt, who came in for La Forge at the start of the second, one-on-one and beat him far side. Wilmes’ goal marked his second two-goal game of the season. Paul Hofbauer tacked on the ninth goal of the game for the Grizzlies at 17:22, with Reagle and Andrejs Bogdanovs adding assists.
Bogdanovs would find the back of the net at 6:11 of the third, extending the lead to 10-0. That would be his second goal of the season and first since September 14 on the road against Peoria. Mathias Backstrom shut the door the rest of the way to earn his third shutout of the season, stopping all 20 shots on net he saw. He is now 11-2-0 on the season with a league-best 1.28 goals against average. Rochester would finish with 71 shots on net.
The Grizzlies now improve to 22-5-1 on the season for 45 points. Rochester is in first place in the Central Division, two points clear of the St. Louis Jr. Blues.
Rochester is on the road for two games this upcoming weekend. Friday, the Grizzlies face the Alexandria Blizzard for the second time this season. Rochester is 0-6-1 against Alexandria dating back to last season with the overtime loss coming this season. Saturday evening the Grizzlies take on the North Iowa Bulls. Rochester is 1-1 against the Bulls this season with the win coming in their most recent match-up on December 13, which started the current win streak for the Grizzlies.